Counselor Programs

counseling session in progress

Understanding and compassionate, counselors give emotional support to those in need.

Most workers get into the field to fulfill their strong desire to help people.

The occupation has many specialties, leading to varied and compelling career options.

Education & Training

Counseling Trade School Programs

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People seek out the help of therapists for a variety of reasons. They may be going through relationship problems or mourning the loss of a loved one. This is why counseling training involves several years of coursework and real-world experience.

Educational Requirements

When reviewing a candidate’s counseling resume, employers check for completion of a master’s degree.

Many schools do not offer undergraduate counseling education, so some hopefuls earn bachelor’s degrees in sociology, education, or psychology. They then go on to earn master’s and doctorate’s in counseling or mental health therapy.


Workers need to undergo licensure in the state they intend to practice. Counseling requirements vary based on region.

It’s up to the student to ensure their training is in accordance with the standards of their desired area. Certain specialties may have their own unique testing criteria.

Continuing Education

Employers might require counselors to show annual evidence of continued education. This can come in the form of workshop certificates, seminar program information, or grade cards from online courses.

Continued education must be state-approved. Prospects can search online to find databases of sanctioned providers and state-by-state requirements.


It is hard to nail down a specific salary when discussing counseling in general, since there are so many different types.  However, below is some average salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

State Hourly mean wage Annual mean wage
Alaska $20.76 $43,180.00
Arizona $22.81 $47,450.00
Arkansas $20.38 $42,380.00
California $21.27 $44,240.00
Colorado $30.56 $63,570.00
Connecticut $22.19 $46,150.00
District of Columbia $41.63 $86,590.00
Florida $20.51 $42,660.00
Georgia $32.49 $67,590.00
Hawaii $29.02 $60,360.00
Idaho $20.14 $41,880.00
Illinois $23.98 $49,880.00
Indiana $30.59 $63,630.00
Iowa $22.58 $46,970.00
Kansas $26.49 $55,090.00
Kentucky $23.95 $49,810.00
Louisiana $21.44 $44,600.00
Maine $20.16 $41,930.00
Maryland $23.76 $49,410.00
Massachusetts $29.13 $60,600.00
Michigan $22.12 $46,000.00
Minnesota $20.34 $42,320.00
Mississippi $16.05 $33,390.00
Missouri $16.79 $34,910.00
Montana $26.38 $54,870.00
Nebraska $22.26 $46,290.00
Nevada $30.44 $63,320.00
New Hampshire $21.56 $44,850.00
New Jersey $40.43 $84,100.00
New York $24.48 $50,930.00
North Carolina $44.73 $93,050.00
North Dakota $31.85 $66,250.00
Ohio $21.67 $45,080.00
Oregon $25.67 $53,390.00
Pennsylvania $27.98 $58,200.00
Puerto Rico $14.81 $30,810.00
South Carolina $19.40 $40,360.00
South Dakota $21.51 $44,740.00
Tennessee $18.96 $39,440.00
Texas $21.61 $44,950.00
Utah $25.24 $52,510.00
Vermont $19.13 $39,790.00
Washington $30.53 $63,500.00
West Virginia $19.96 $41,510.00
Wisconsin $24.12 $50,160.00


Occupation: Counselors, All Other (SOC Code211019)

Workers usually earn between $35k and $40k. Advanced positions offer yearly pay rates as high as $80k. Associates can expect their salary to rise between $10k and $20k over the course of 20 years.

What Is Counseling?

Counselors assist their patients in coping with personal issues. These can include depression, anxiety, and a wide range of emotional disorders.

Through conversation and observation, counselors work to understand their client’s points of view.

The goal is to restore a client’s sense of well-being. For school counselors this could involve mediating a conflict between two students.

For drug counselors it often involves working with addicts to instill feelings of self-worth and optimism.

No matter what the specialty, mental health therapists help people overcome their obstacles in life.

Counseling classes train prospects to work with one or more of the following:

  • Family problems
  • Divorce
  • Job stresses
  • Mental health disorders
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual abuse
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Loss of loved ones
  • Academic or athletic pressure
  • Debt management
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Eating disorders
  • Career changes or layoffs

Types of Counseling

Mental Health Counseling

Mental health counselors provide service to those in need of emotional care. Some of them lead group therapy sessions while others work one-on-one with people. They often team up with other specialists such as social workers, nurses, or doctors. To help clients grasp complex topics, employees may use counseling equipment such as workbooks or diagrams.

Addiction Counseling

Working with both groups and individuals, addiction counselors help clients understand compulsive behaviors. They deal with all types of addictions, including shopping, gambling, and theft. These associates help their patients form treatment plans and brainstorm ways to limit client exposure to bad influences.

Drug and Alcohol Counseling

Drug and alcohol counselors give support to those with substance abuse disorders. Often working for courts or state agencies, they take notes regarding patient progress and treatment results. The goal of these workers is to convince habitual drug users to stop using substances.

Rehab Counseling

People who suffer from developmental disabilities seek help from rehab counselors. These professionals also assist those suffering from illnesses or recovering from injuries. Rehab counselors help people cope with their situations, offering advice on how to face future challenges.

School Counseling

School counselors are crucial members of education teams, doing all they can to ensure student success. They mediate conflicts, provide academic guidance, and explain college options. Team members work in all levels of education, from K-12 to community colleges and universities.

Grief Counseling

When people experience traumatic events or loss of loved ones, they often seek help from grief counselors. Grief therapists help their clients find peace by discovering ways express their loss and move forward along a productive path.

These associates also work with the elderly while making end-of-life decisions at hospices and hospitals.

Marriage Counseling

Marriage counselors help couples work through issues causing stress in their relationships. Common topics involve money, infidelity, or children, but discussions can address anything that sparks tension.

Some couples choose to attend marriage counseling after enduring a crisis or strenuous event.

Family Counseling

Tragedies, economic troubles, or constant fighting can lead people to seek out family counselors. Associates work to strengthen bonds among family members and break down boundaries that cause conflict.

They may refer clients to social agencies or other physicians if necessary.

Violence Counseling

Abuse victims and assault survivors often look to violence counselors for emotional or mental support. The colleagues help patients rediscover their confidence and passion in order to move forward in life.

Cathartic sessions provided by violence counselors are focused on removing negative emotions held by clients.

Career Overview

What Are Counseling Duties?

During therapy sessions, counselors talk with their clients about traumatic experiences. They help patients process emotional distress by discussing their feelings and reactions to events.

It’s important for counselors to help clients move past these negative ordeals by guiding them towards healthier decision-making habits and thought processes.

Those with counseling careers work to improve mental health not only for individuals and groups but also for entire communities.

They help families improve communication skills as well as work within schools to improve social interaction and success among young people.

Associates develop therapeutic treatment methods that may include drastic lifestyle changes, and monitor their patients’ progress.

Usually, counselors approach mental health care with a holistic mindset. They often focus on the client’s strengths rather than on perceived flaws.

Aspiring therapists can expect to perform the following tasks:

  • Update patient files with progress briefings and other details
  • Refer clients to additional support groups or treatment centers
  • Successfully urge patients to express difficult feelings and thoughts
  • Devise strategies to de-escalate stressful situations
  • Think of ways for clients to change harmful habits

What Are Useful Counseling Skills?


Counselors must be empathetic towards other’s problems. They need good listening skills and an ability to see themselves in someone else’s situation.

Clients are often under a great deal of stress. Counselor compassion helps to build trust which leads to honest conversations.


Communication abilities are crucial for mental health workers. They must be able to decipher the thoughts shared by their clients and instantly provide comfort or useful feedback.

Workers must also learn to phrase their own thoughts in an easily-understood manner.


Specialists should remain flexible with their treatment plans, devising them around a client’s specific needs. They have to customize their care based on the patient’s background, lifestyle, and work schedule.

This type of flexibility requires a creative mindset along with a willingness to meet with clients during nights and weekends.

Associates work with folks of many social and economic backgrounds. Counseling schools teach students to be sensitive to the beliefs and traditions of those across a wide range of ethnicities.

Other Useful Skills

  • Inquisitive drive to probe for information and get to the source of an issue
  • Knowledge of other health services to give patients additional resources
  • Non-biased business protocols
  • Leadership qualities to guide clients towards their goals
  • Analytical talents to interpret body language and facial expressions
  • Communication abilities to explain psychological concepts in relatable ways
  • Interpersonal skills for relating to patients and their unique problems
  • Research skills to keep up-to-date on relevant studies
  • A strong sense of commitment towards patients
  • An accepting attitude towards those in need of help

Where Do They Work?

In recent times, many more job options have sprung up for those with a counseling certificate.

Places that counselors can work include the following:

  • Outpatient care centers
  • Local, state, and federal governments
  • Family service centers
  • Psychiatric wards
  • Hospitals
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Substance abuse clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Schools and colleges
  • Consulting services

Can You Work Remotely?

Work-from-home jobs allow licensed therapists to use computers and smartphones as counseling tools.

Employees offer sessions through video or voice conferencing apps, using the same outcome tracking techniques they would in an office.

Patients must live in states where practitioners hold unrestricted counseling licenses.

What Are Some Other Career Options for Counselors?

Prospects that meet standard counseling requirements have several career choices.

Social Workers

For example, they can become social workers. These professionals diagnose and help treat personal issues amongst families and individuals.

The annual pay for a typical social worker is nearly $50k per year, and job growth is at a healthy 16 percent.


Those willing to earn a doctoral degree in psychology can become licensed psychologists. These skilled workers observe relationships between people and use their findings to benefit society.

They find jobs in a number of sectors, including healthcare, science, and government. Job growth is at 14 percent, with a psychologist’s median yearly wage adding up to nearly $80k.

Career Outlook

Job growth varies depending on specialty, but it typically sits around 14 percent. The industry is on an upswing, with lots of counseling jobs becoming available to those with the proper credentials. There are roughly 665,000 people in the United States working as counselors.